Acronyms: Avoiding the alphabet soup

For many professionals, acronyms and initialisms are simply an unwelcome fact of life, but they can at least ensure they’re being used properly with these guidelines.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

I work for a hospital system where TLAs (three-letter acronyms) are ubiquitous. Not only do we use health care acronyms, but also acronyms related to our system, and acronyms related to each facility.

I was recently at a training seminar with co-workers from different departments. Our first exercise was to set the ground rules and expectations for the class. One ground rule that was quickly established: No acronyms were to be used in the class unless they were first defined.

By the end of the seminar, we were discussing plans to create a group called the EAA: Employees Against Acronyms.

As writers, editors, and PR professionals, we fight to keep our readers’ attention every day. To accommodate readers who want to scan instead of read or click instead of concentrate, our content must be succinct. We can’t avoid using acronyms, even though we know they interfere with comprehension. All too often, we sacrifice clarity to save a few words.

But we don’t have to. Below is a summary of style rules and guidelines for using acronyms.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.